B.C.’s social services computer system never finished: auditor

The computer system used to protect vulnerable kids and deliver social programs has never lived up to expectations, B.C.’s auditor general states in a report released today.

Carol Bellringer says the Integrated Case Management system cost $182 million, but replaced only one-third of the older systems slated for upgrades in social service ministries.

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As a result, ICM now runs concurrently with creaky and inflexible “antiquated” systems to serve 200,000 clients every year.

Bellringer also found that ICM failed to safeguard personal information or monitor inappropriate activity.

The Ministry of Social Development, as project lead, neglected to limit access to the system on a need-to-know basis, and failed to monitor for inappropriate activity, the report states.

“There may have been security breaches without the ministry’s knowledge,” Bellringer writes in her 33-page audit.

In addition, ICM contained duplicate records and sometimes incomplete or inaccurate client information.

“Systems like ICM are only as good as the data entered into them,” Bellringer states. “Difficulty recording and finding information can reduce valuable time staff spend with clients.”

ICM, which has been plagued by problems almost from the outset, made news last year when it experienced a series of “slowdowns.”

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.'s representative for children and youth, said at the time that the system had been a “disaster” and that the problems were putting the lives of children and families at risk.

She noted that a public safety warning she issued about ICM in 2012 had never been lifted.

lkines@timescolonist.com

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